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First, Egypt's Army Went for the News Media

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Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Station Employees Arrested Before Morsi's Overthrow

Press-Freedom Group Urges Europe to Protect Snowden

Blacks More Engaged With Top News Stories Than Whites

Zimmerman Trial Not the Meditation on Race Some Expected

"The N Word" Special Boosts CNN Ratings by 90%

Public Editor: Calling People "Mutts" Wasn't Best Idea

Tribune Co. Deal Speeds Television Industry Consolidation

7.7 Million Watch, 10 Million Tweet BET Awards

Short Takes

Tens of thousands of demonstrators took to  Cairo's Tahrir Square celebrating th

Station Employees Arrested Before Morsi's Overthrow

The Egyptian army's overthrow Wednesday of Mohamed Morsi, the country's first democratically elected president, was preceded by an action that reminds us of the power of the news media:

"Al Jazeera's live Egypt service [has] been taken off air along with several other TV channels," Al Jazeera reported.

"Reports from our correspondents say this happened during a live broadcast when security forces stormed the building and arrested the presenter, guests and producers."

As the Al Jazeera report indicated, the network was not the only media outlet affected.

Sign depicts shoes chasing the president out of the capital. (Credit: Flickr/Isl

Egypt's Al Ahram reported, "The Muslim Brotherhood-owned television channel Misr 25 went off air along with several other Islamist-run channels, including the controversial Hafez and Al-Nas, shortly after the military statement announcing the ouster of president Mohamed Morsi.

"Police forces went to the Media Production City in Cairo's 6 October, where the offices and studios of these channels are located, and evacuated them, according to Al-Ahram's Arabic-language news portal.

"The police also arrested some of the personnel working for these channels."

The right to control the airwaves is so vital to national security that in the United States, the Communications Act of 1934 forbids foreign ownership of U.S. broadcast outlets [PDF].

Egypt's "chief of the armed forces, General Abdul Fatah Khalil al-Sisi, announced in a live television broadcast:

  • "the suspension of the Egyptian constitution,

  • "the appointment of the head of the constitutional court as the country's interim leader,

  • "the calling of early new presidential elections, and

  • "the establishment of a national government of technocrats," allafrica.com reported.

Both sides saw the value of the media. On Friday, Morsi's Ministry of Investment sent notice to all satellite television channels "warning they will be shut down if the government deems that their coverage of this weekend's political protests incites violence, insults individuals, or contradicts societal values, news reports said," the Committee to Protect Journalists reported Friday.

"Numerous journalists are also facing new legal threats in the two days since President Mohamed Morsi blasted independent media in his national address, according to Egyptian news reports, which also described the abduction of an editor. . . ."

Others were injured during the demonstrations. Reporters without Borders reported Tuesday, "More than 10 journalists were attacked while covering the demonstrations and clashes between government opponents and Muslim Brotherhood supporters in Cairo and other regions." It also said, "According to a public health ministry report released yesterday, 781 people were injured and 16 died during the demonstrations on 30 June alone."

The danger to women in such crowds, highlighted during the Tahrir Square demonstrations of 2011, remained an issue. "Two years after CBS News reporter Lara Logan was sexually assaulted while covering the 2011 Egyptian uprising, another journalist has been attacked while covering unrest in the country," Media Life Magazine reported Wednesday.

"The Netherlands Embassy in Egypt released a statement yesterday saying that a 22-year-old Dutch woman was attacked in Tahrir Square on Friday night; an Egyptian news report said the woman was raped. She was treated in a Cairo hospital and then sent back to her family in The Netherlands. . . ."

Overall, "Egypt's Tahrir Square has seen nearly hundred women falling victim to 'rampant' sexual attacks during the past four days of protests against President Mohamed Morsi, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said," Al Jazeera reported.

"The global rights watchdog said on Wednesday that the mobs sexually assaulted 'and in some cases raped at least 91 women' in Tahrir Square amid a climate of impunity. . . ."

News of the Egyptian developments dominated website front pages in the United States, the Huffington Post reported.

"The political crisis in Egypt came to a head when Egyptian military chief Al-Sisi announced the removal of Morsi and temporary suspension of the country's constitution in a televised statement. Celebrations erupted in Cairo as he added that the chief justice of the constitutional court will serve as the country's interim leader.

"The coverage of the political crisis in Egypt was scant on cable news networks for most of the week, however viewers could turn to online news outlets. Fox News, MSBNC and CNN switched to the protests in Egypt once Morsi was ousted. NBC News also broke in with a special report anchored by Brian Williams. . . ."

Meanwhile, the White House embraced a new spelling of the now-deposed president's last name on Tuesday.

"Until today, the White House utilized the spelling 'Morsi' in its official documents, and that spelling can be found a total of 86 times on the White House website, the website talkradionews.com reported.

"A readout provided by the White House today, however, featured the romanized 'Morsy,' a spelling that has only been repeated since by CNN. . . ."

Richard T. Griffiths, CNN vice president/senior editorial director, responded on Twitter on Wednesday, "So, why does #CNN spell #Morsy like that? Because it is what he told us he prefers. It is how he spells his name in English."


Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency systems analyst who released sensitive documents on U.S. intelligence-gathering operations, has requested asylum from 20 countries, according to WikiLeaks. (video)

Press-Freedom Group Urges Europe to Protect Snowden

The leader of the Paris-based press-freedom group Reporters Without Borders joined with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange Wednesday to urge the states of the European Union to protect wanted U.S. leaker Edward Snowden.

In an op-ed in the French newspaper Le Monde, Christophe Deloire, general secretary of Reporters Without Borders, and Assange wrote, "On October 12, 2012, the European Union won the Nobel Peace Prize for contributing to the 'advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe.' The EU should show itself worthy of this honor and show its will to defend freedom of information, regardless of fears of political pressure from its so-called closest ally, the United States.

"Now that Edward Snowden, the young American who revealed the global monitoring system known as Prism, has requested asylum from 20 countries, the EU nations should extend a welcome, under whatever law or status seems most appropriate.

"Although the United States remains a world leader in upholding the ideal of freedom of expression, the American attitude toward whistleblowers sullies the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. . . ."

CBS News reported Wednesday, "Snowden has applied for asylum in Venezuela, Bolivia and 18 other countries, according to WikiLeaks, a secret spilling website that has been advising him. So far, he's been rejected by Brazil, Finland, Germany, India and Poland. Several countries have punted on the decision, saying he has to be on their soil to apply, including Austria, Ecuador, Norway and Spain. Most countries, however, have yet to offer a firm response either way, including Venezuela, Bolivia, China, Cuba, France, Iceland, Italy, Ireland, Netherlands, Nicaragua, and Switzerland. . . ."

Blacks More Engaged With Top News Stories Than Whites

"The past several months have been a news-rich environment that has carried into the normally-slow summer news cycle, and The Pew Research Center's latest news interest survey indicates that black people are significantly more engaged about a range of news stories than white people," Tommy Christopher reported Tuesday for Mediaite.

"While you might expect such a result with stories like the George Zimmerman murder trial and embattled celebrity chef Paula Deen's difficulties, the survey also found a disappointing disparity in interest on the Supreme Court's gutting of the Voting Rights Act, and higher interest among black people even in the saga of NSA leaker Edward Snowden. In fact, black people showed more interest than whites in every story in the survey, with the exception of the Supreme Court's marriage equality rulings, where interest was equal.

"Here are the news stories that white people were following closely last week, in order of strongest to weakest interest:

  • "Same-Sex Marriage Rulings: 30%
  • "Edward Snowden: 20%
  • "George Zimmerman Trial: 18%
  • "Immigration Bill: 18%
  • "Paula Deen: 16%
  • "Voting Rights Act Ruling: 15%
  • "Texas Abortion Rights Filibuster: 13%

"And here are the news stories that black people were following closely last week, in order of strongest to weakest interest:

  • "George Zimmerman Trial: 46%
  • "Voting Rights Act Ruling: 36%
  • "Same-Sex Marriage Rulings: 30%
  • "Paula Deen: 27%
  • "Texas Abortion Rights Filibuster: 23%
  • "Edward Snowden: 22%
  • "Immigration Bill: 20% . . ."

Zimmerman Trial Not the Meditation on Race Some Expected

In the case of George Zimmerman, accused in the killing of unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin, "An uncomfortable national conversation about race and justice had been touched off — in Sanford, at a 'Million Hoodie March' in New York and when President Obama called for 'soul-searching' and said if he had a son, 'he'd look like Trayvon, ' " Manuel Roig-Franzia wrote from Sanford, Fla., Tuesday for the Washington Post.

"Yet, 16 months later, this case that was so entwined with race has produced a murder trial in which race is a subtext rather than a central theme.

"Prosecutors have portrayed George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch enthusiast who shot the 17-year-old Martin, as being many things: profane, mendacious, overzealous, violent. But they haven't called Zimmerman, who is claiming that he acted in self-defense, a racist. Instead of becoming a meditation on race, the courtroom action is unfolding as a police procedural, a saga of guns and vigilantism, a glimpse of civic rage and frustration.

"Outside the courtroom, the case is still widely perceived in racial terms.

"Some here had hoped for more from this trial, which entered its seventh day of testimony Tuesday. . . ."

HLN, which is carrying near gavel-to-gavel coverage of the case, has brought in extra anchor help in the form of T.J. Holmes, former CNN and BET host. An HLN representative told TVNewser that Holmes is doing freelance work for the network during the trial.

Holmes has been giving play-by-play of the court room on his Twitter page via @TJHolmes, Jawn Murray reported on his alwaysalist.com site. During testimony via Skype Wednesday by Scott Pleasants, a former college professor of Zimmerman, callers flooded the line, names popped up on the screen and testimony was interrupted. "They appear to be getting a kick out of seeing their name on TV," Holmes tweeted.

"The trolling was successful — the frustrated judge demanded that attorneys call a different number and ditch the Skype session," Pamela Engel reported for businessinsider.com.

Paula Deen and George Zimmerman stories helped boost interest in "The N Word." (

"The N Word" Special Boosts CNN Ratings by 90%

"CNN improved its ratings fortune a whopping 90% in the news demo of adults 25-54 and nearly 60% among viewers of all ages last night when it telecast the perfect-storm special, which brilliantly tapped into viewers' summertime appetite for all things Paula Deen AND George Zimmerman," Lisa de Moraes wrote Tuesday for Deadline Hollywood.

"An average of 612,000 people watched The N Word — 218,000 of them in the demo. The previous four weeks, CNN had averaged 388,000 viewers in the time slot, and 115,000 in the demo. Sure, CNN still finished fourth among cable news networks — third in the demo — with the controversial special. But, hey, up is up. . . ."

Public Editor: Calling People "Mutts" Wasn't Best Idea

"A column by David Brooks, entitled 'A Nation of Mutts,' has offended so many people that I thought it would be worthwhile to ask Mr. Brooks to respond," Margaret Sullivan, public editor of the New York Times, wrote Wednesday. "On Tuesday morning, I sent him one of the many e-mails I've received from readers and he quickly wrote back. Below is the e-mail I sent, his response, and my brief take. . . ."

Sullivan quoted the email containing one reader's objections, then published Brooks' reply:

"In that column, I was trying to embrace and celebrate a more ethnically intermingled America. I conclude with this sentence: 'On the whole, this future is exciting.' To read this column as racist requires either a misreading or a strong desire to be offended, no matter what is on the page.

"As for the use of the word 'mutts,' history is filled with examples of groups who have taken derogatory terms and embraced them as sources of pride. To take the word 'mutt' as a derogatory term, you have to believe that purebred things are superior to mixed-breed things, whether it is dogs or people. But if you don't believe that, there is nothing to be ashamed of in the word mutt.

"I seized on the headline after I was in a group of people talking about the future demography of the country and one participant said proudly, 'We're mutts.' That seemed to capture the message I was trying to convey, so I used it in the headline and the piece."

Sullivan responded, "My take: As I noted above, columnists have the right to express opinion as they wish, in the way they want. And their editors generally make a point of staying out of the way. I believe Mr. Brooks when he says he didn't mean to offend. But comparing people to animals is always tricky, and 'mutts' is a loaded term. There must have been a better way to say this, especially in the headline. I wish he had found it himself or that an editor had insisted on it."

Tribune Co. Deal Speeds Television Industry Consolidation

"Tribune Co.'s proposed $2.7-billion acquisition of 19 television stations owned by Local TV Holdings would accelerate the rapid consolidation of the television business," Meg James wrote Monday for the Los Angeles Times.

"Tribune on Monday said that it had entered into a definitive agreement to buy the stations, which would give Tribune a total of 42 TV stations — up from its current count of 23. The all-cash deal would make Tribune one of the biggest TV-station owners in the country and the largest independent affiliate station group for Fox Broadcasting. Tribune would control 14 Fox affiliates.

"The agreement is the largest broadcasting deal in the U.S. in several years. It comes less than a month after Gannett Co. announced an accord to acquire 20 big-market TV stations owned by Belo Corp. in a deal valued at $2.2 billion.

Another large independent station owner, Sinclair, also has been snapping up smaller stations in the past two years to extend its reach. . . ."

7.7 Million Watch, 10 Million Tweet BET Awards

"BET's annual BET Awards show drew 7.7 million viewers Sunday, finishing as the most watched show on cable for the week, according to Nielsen," R. Thomas Umstead reported Tuesday for Multichannel News.

"The event, which featured performances by hip-hop artist 2 Chainz and Kendrick Lamar as well as R&B singers Ciara, Chris Brown . . . and Miguel, topped the 7.4 million viewers garnered by last year's show and match the audience for the 2011 BET Awards, according to Nielsen.

"On the social media front, the BET Awards accounted for 51% of all social chatter across all of cable on Sunday, dominating Twitter with nearly ten million tweets, said the network. . . ."

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Richard Prince's Journal-isms originates from Washington and is published Monday, Wednesday and Friday. It began in print before most of us knew what the Internet was, and it would like to be referred to as a "column." For newcomers: The words in blue (on most computers) are links leading to more information. The Web site BugMeNot.com provides passwords and user names to some registration-only news sites, but use may be illegal in some states. Any views expressed in the column are those of the person or organization quoted and not those of any other entity.

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